Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:
Despite being the better team early on — at one point outshooting the Colorado Avalanche 10-1 — the Avs took the lead in the first period and never looked back. The Islanders did cut the Colorado lead to just one late in the third, but the visitors added two goals in the final minute to secure a 5-2 win.
“Same old story,” Islander Coach Jack Capuano said after the loss. “We dominated the game and we don’t win a hockey game… We had some unbelievable chances.”
The Avalanche tallied the game’s first goal 13:04 into the first period. Nathan MacKinnon put one past Evgeni Nabokov after Eric Boulton had pushed an Avalanche player into the Islander netminder, making it impossible for Nabokov to make the save.
Matt Duchene made it 2-0 Avalanche early in the second period, tallying his first of two goals in the contest. He gave Colorado the 3-0 lead 2:44 later. A tough angle shot from the Avs’ star went past Nabokov’s glove and top shelf into the net.
But an avalanche of penalties against Colorado allowed the Islanders to claw back into the game midway through the third.
With Cody McLeod, Andre Benoit and Maxim Talbot all in the box the Islanders had a five-on-three power play opportunity. John Tavares got the Islanders on the board at 11:17 to cut it to a 3-1 Avalanche lead. Colorado took another penalty less than a minute after the Islander goal and put the home team back on the five-on-three advantage.
Four seconds later a blast from the point by Lubomir Visnovsky cut the Avs lead to just one.
But the Islanders couldn’t find the equalizer with the remaining power play time. It looked as though Brock Nelson had tied the game in the waining minutes of regulation, but his shot just glided across the goal line.
Colorado added two empty net goals in the final minute and came away with the win.
“There’s a lot of frustration,” said Travis Hamonic, who was appearing in his first game since January 12. “I feel like we had a great start and kind of shot ourselves in the foot there in the second period to be quite honest with you. Power play definitely hasn’t been clicking and it was nice that we could take advantage of kind of an unfamiliar setting when you have that many five-on-threes in a row.”
The Tavares power play goal ended an 0-33 power play drought that the Islanders had going, but the fact that the two power play goals came on a two man advantage dampened the fact that the special teams had finally come through. When the Islanders needed it the most, the power play unit failed to convert on a five-on-four power play.
“Yeah a five-on-three goal, a little relief,” Capuano said. “It was good to see guys shoot pucks. Again we shot a puck. [Josh Bailey] throws it over to Johnny and he shoots a puck. That’s what we gotta do, but we had some other ones that were so so.”
The Islanders will now head into the 18-day Olympic break having lost five of their last six games and the latest loss moves the Isles further out of playoff positioning.
“It leaves a pretty sour taste in your mouth going into the break,” Hamonic said. “But you try to use that as a bit of motivation heading into the last 22 [games].”